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What to Know about Cutting Water Weight

By:
Bo Francy
Date:
27 April 2011
Gabe Ruediger

Weight cutting is the practice of rapidly attempting to lose weight prior to a sporting competition. It most frequently happens in order to qualify for a lower weight class (usually in combat sports, where weight is a significant advantage) or in sports where it is advantageous to weigh as little as possible. Many athletes think of weight cutting as an art, and there are many things that must be considered during cutting weight including total amount of weight to be lost, how much time you will have to rehydrate, the duration of the event in which you will be competing, as well as several other factors.

Those that know me or have trained with me also know that I generally cut between between four and eight pounds the week of a tournament. For those of you who do not know me, I train and compete in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Many BJJ tournaments weigh the competitors on the day of the tournament, moments before they compete. In the past, I have had trouble feeling my best after cutting weight the week of a tournament. So I decided to write this article, to give the average competitor insight into cutting weight.

Cutting water weight for a jiu jitsu tournament is never good, but is sometimes needed. Although, proper diet and exercise can eliminate cutting from becoming a necessity.  But what is the max one should lose in order to avoid the effects of the cut you may ask? The human body is made up of about 65% water, but be advised that this percentage depends on various health conditions an daily water intake. Most nutritionists and doctors do not recommend losing more than 5% of your body weight through dehydration.

For example, I weigh 200 pounds, so if 5% percent is the max recommendation via dehydration, then I should not lose more than 10 pounds of water weight.  As many of us know, professional athletes will lose more than this, but those athletes are under intense supervision and have set programs to help them recover afterwards. Also, keep in mind that cutting water weight has side effects, some of which include decreased performance and a higher possibility of injury due to dehydrated muscles.

I hope the information above has been useful if you are cutting water in the near future. Remember to take into consideration in which tournament you will be competing prior to deciding whether or not to cut. Many tournaments require you to weigh in the day before, which allows plenty of time to rehydrate and recover. International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) tournaments, weigh-ins are moments prior to your first match. From my past experience with IBJJF, you do not have enough time to fully recover or rehydrate from when you weigh-in to when you are on deck to compete. Also, be sure to check with your doctor or nutritionist if this is something you really decide to do.

*Note: Clearly, I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or a specialist in cutting water weight. I have simply relayed my past experiences and information I have researched.              

Photo courtesy of mmatko.com
Last Modified:
01 August 2011

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